Visa to Russia

Old Aug 2nd, 2008, 05:53 AM
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Visa to Russia

I will be traveling to Moscow for the Thanksgiving holiday. I need to know the best way to get a visa. I have had several different ways presented to me. I will be staying in Moscow at one hotel the whole time. Can everything be completed in the U.S. before departure?
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Old Aug 2nd, 2008, 07:54 AM
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You MUST get your visa before you leave. You will need a letter of invitation. You must also make sure that your hotel registers your visa after you arrive. See www.waytorussia.net/RussianVisa/index.html for some good info, and the Lonely Planet's thorntree discussion board.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2008, 09:25 AM
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You can get the letter of invitation from the hotel and then take it to the consulate with an application form, photos, passport and fee. Or if you can't get to the consulate you can use the services of a company that specialises in visa applications. The visa company might be able to get the invitation letter for you for a fee. Using a visa company (eg CIBT) can be pricey is not usually necessary but some like to use it for convenience esp if they are not sure how to apply directly.

Sometimes the hotel charges for the letter of invitation and sometimes not, same with registering the visa on arrival at the hotel.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2008, 09:40 AM
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Contact http://www.nordicsaga.com/MainPages/ContactUs.html
They did all the paperwork and got our visas for us for a fee of $35 for the group.

They may do it only if you take a tour with them - not sure about that. Wouldn't hurt to email them and ask.
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Old Aug 4th, 2008, 04:57 AM
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Thank you for the information so far. I am still a little confused, how do I get a letter of invitation? Before I leave or when I get there? Can I trust doing everything over the internet or are there things to be cautious of? Thank you greatly for any information.
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Old Aug 4th, 2008, 05:02 AM
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As others have said, you must complete the visa process BEFORE you get to Russia. Your hotel will provide the letter of invitation, which you must have before you apply for the visa.
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Old Aug 4th, 2008, 05:09 AM
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Parts you can do over the net(like downloading forms), some you cant(like mailing in your Passport w/your application to the Russian Consulate).
I dont know whether they will accept an emailed letter of invitation, I used an original
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Old Aug 4th, 2008, 05:11 AM
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Norbert- It probably obvious, but I should add- The Consulate mail you back your passport with the visa
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Old Aug 4th, 2008, 06:55 AM
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Did you read the info on the sites I posted? You need the letter of invitation (LOI) in order to get the visa, so obviously you need it before you leave. Your hotel may or may not issue the LOI - did you reserve directly with the hotel or through an agency? If you used an agency you should ask them.

There are several outfits that will issue the LOI for a fee - see the Way to Russia site. There are also outfits in the US that specialize in getting visas - in addition to CIBT, already mentioned, I have used Travisa (www.travisa.com/Instructions/RussiaInst.htm).
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Old Aug 4th, 2008, 07:58 AM
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It depends on which hotel you are staying: the Marriotts/Hyatts of this world would typically ask you to complete a form and fax it back to them to start the LOI process. The form would ask for passport no, nationality, DOB etc and that info will be put onto the LOI. Some hotels charge for this service, others only charge if you cancel the hotel reservation after receiving the LOI. The LOI is usually in 2 parts, both in Russian. These documents are then taken to the consulate in support of your application together with the application form, photos and your passport. The visa is a piece of paper stuck onto one of your passport pages and is valid for the dates mentioned on the visa.

If unsure, let a visa agency do it.
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Old Aug 4th, 2008, 09:46 AM
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I just recently went thru the process. In three weeks I will be visiting friends who work for our (American)Embassy in Moscow and I will be staying with them, but the process should be the same for anyone staying at a hotel:

My friends emailed me the forms of invitation (13 pages) and I completed them, mailed them to the Russian Federation Embassy in DC, along with my passport and 2 passport pictures. They kept the pictures (guessed they wanted to double-check them against the one in the passport) and mailed the passport back to me about 5 weeks later. I also had to pay a fee, but I'm blanking on what it was now...I could look it up if you want..

Anyway, go ahead and get started. Contact the hotel for the invitation.
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Old Aug 4th, 2008, 10:18 AM
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The process is different for a tourist visa then to a homestay visa.
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Old Aug 4th, 2008, 11:26 AM
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The hotel will send you a letter of invitation when you pay for your stay (prepay is usually required), which you take with your visa application, photo and passport and send to the Russian consulate. They will return it to you with the visa.

You CANNOT do it on the spot - in fact, I doubt the airline will let you on the plane to Russia unless they see your Russian visa along with your passport.
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Old Aug 4th, 2008, 11:48 AM
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Prepayment of a hotel is not always required and sending a letter of invitation is not sent automatically since some go for business and that's a different process. You have to ask for the LOI. And you definitely cannot board a plane to Russia without the visa.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2008, 06:35 PM
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Hi
I am planning a 6 day visit to Russia with a tour group I will get the necessary paperwork to get my visa.
I went on the Russian Consulate Web site and saw 3 Agencies to use to get a visa as I see the rules have changed and now you need to go in person or use one of the three services.
1. Travista
2 PVS
3. CIBT
Any suggestions as to which one is the best?

Thank You
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Old Dec 22nd, 2008, 06:39 PM
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I've used both Travisa and CIBT. I'd use whichever is cheaper. Don't know anything about the other one.
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Old Dec 23rd, 2008, 04:40 AM
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Hi
Thank you very much for your quick reply thursdaysd
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Old Dec 23rd, 2008, 06:08 AM
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About three years ago I used www.passportsplus.com/
Passports Plus, Inc.
5177 Richmond Ave, Suite 675, Houston, TX 77056
888.821.8472 ~ toll free
and they were efficient, just did what was necessary. It cost me $151.41 including postage etc.
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Old Dec 23rd, 2008, 04:58 PM
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Hi
Thank you very much DL
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Old Dec 27th, 2008, 03:09 AM
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we have just been quoted 130 aud each to get our invitation and visa
seems like a lot
but i do prefer that it is done by the travel agent

we have booked two apartments in moscow and st petes
one agency specialising in the baltics insisted that i check that the booking is done through the same supplier for both cities
this seemed strange but she did say that the embassy would not accept it if the bookings are done through different suppliers
go figure that one

anyhow
our own travel agent is looking after both apartments and it is being done by the same agency in russia- a reliable one i hope

the travel agency will do it all on our behalf - we bring in the passports and they handle the paperwork and send it to the embassy

this will all happen in a few days time - once the christmas holidays are over and everyones back at work
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